The American healthcare system


The American healthcare system is very competent and advanced, but also very expensive. The American healthcare system is huge and you can find clinics and hospitals everywhere, even in the remotest areas of the country.

Hospitals are packed with the latest high-tech equipment, and doctors and surgeons are highly trained and motivated.

Unfortunately, this supreme quality also comes with a huge pricetag. You should be aware that healthcare fees - for doctors, hospital stays and even medicines - are among the most expensive in the world, consuming some 15% of American GDP. Considering the growing proportion of elderly people and ever-increasing technology costs, this percentage is likely to grow even further.

Although healthcare for the wealthy is probably the best in the world, the high cost and minimum state intervention mean that it’s sparse or even non-existent for the poor and unemployed. Some 15% of the population don’t have any health insurance at all, and the state-funded health schemes Medicare and Medicaid only cover people over 65 years old, the disabled and the very poor.

Note that there is no such thing as "free" treatment in the U.S., not even in state hospitals. All care, including emergencies, has to be paid for by you or your health insurance. In many city hospitals you can find an urgent care clinic which is for serious emergencies and is also less expensive than regular hospitals and clinics. But even these treatments will come at a price.

When coming to the U.S., it is therefore extremely important to have full healthcare insurance, or a serious illness could cause a financial disaster. You will even be obliged to prove that you have adequate cover in some cases. See our section on health insurance for details, or, for more up-to-date news related to expat health, healthcare and insurance in the U.S., check out our expat health blog at .

Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: